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Monday, May 20, 2013

Hawk Mountain eagle
Eagle statue on Hawk Mountain
This is made of rusted metal parts with dimensions of 14 x 9 x 9
It was formerly at the Wannemaker's Department store originating in Philadelphia

ListenListen to this message on your audio player. Note: Due to my quality microphone not working with Windows 8 the sound is rather poor and occasionally has a very annoying feedback type noise. A new microphone has been ordered!

"Bravely Run The Race"

"Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God'? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:27-31).

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Faith Community men's retreat 5/18/13This last weekend I had the opportunity to share three messages at a men's retreat.  On a side trip Saturday afternoon we went up to Hawk Mountain, a remote area along the Appalachian ridge which is a major flyway for migratory birds. The Appalachian Trail also runs along this ridge and I had the opportunity to walk alongside it (very briefly). It was great to be with a group of committed men seeking to please the Lord.

Speaking at Faith Community men's retreat 5/18/13In my messages I used the theme of our Christian journey being like a race, a theme frequently used in Scripture, such as the portion in our daily text that states, "They shall run and not be weary." Of all the types of races the marathon is most like the Christian race.

I want to share in today's encouragement the major points made this last weekend, condensing the three teachings into one daily encouragement message:

1) The Christian race must have a start. We are not in the race by default regardless of our upbringing. This start begins when we place our faith in Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.
Paul wrote, "For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). For all of us there is a time when we "first believed". For some it's a very distinct memory; for other not so much, if they came to faith early in life. You are not in the race unless you've started and if you haven't done so we encourage you to accept Christ as Your Savior today, and begin your starting point! Like songwriter John Newton wrote may we with joy proclaim, "How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed."

Race to run2) The Christian race is characterized by ongoing strict training by practicing spiritual disciplines and self-control. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." Surely the apostle Paul is speaking here of the spiritual development and disciplines we volitionally participate in that contribute to a growth in godliness such as Bible reading and study, Scripture memorization, prayer and praise, church participation, Christian virtues and service along with other forms of spiritual discipline. In 1 Corinthians chapter 9 Paul uses the athletic analogy and urges that we "Exercise self-control in all things" (9:25). The writer of Hebrews instructs us to, "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us" (Hebrews 12:1). Speaking at a men's retreat I had the opportunity to challenge the men regarding specific sins so many men deal with.

3) The Christian race is characterized by endurance and overcoming inevitable trials. As I type this line I consider John, a young friend who for several months now has been enduring an affliction and is again in the hospital. Many readers are undergoing trials as they read this and any of us who have been in the race for awhile can sing,

"Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come.
T'was grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home."

The writer of Hebrews continues in the latter part of Hebrews 12:1, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Endurance is especially needed due to trials which give opportunity for maturing in our faith. In the only recorded message quoted from Paul's first missionary journey, he "strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God'” (Acts 14:22).

4) The Christian race is characterized by encouraging and being encouraged. This is a gifting available to each one of us and we need to conscientiously practice it. "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13). In 2000 I attended the Boston Marathon as a spectator and watched the race along what is known as Heartbreak Hill. Running up the gentle grade along the race course at the top of the hill near Boston College, the runners get their first glimpse of the Boston skyline where they will cross the finish line. We caught sight of one viewer's encouraging sign that gave runners a reason to stay in the race, "Heartbreak is over, you're on your way home". What a powerful spiritual reality we can share as we help our fellow runners focus on the finish line, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:2,3).

Boston Marathon finish line5) The Christian race is characterized by a very specific and spectacular finish. This finish will be at the time of our death or, if we are alive at the time of Christ's return, we will be caught up in the rapture. In the apostle Paul's sermon to the Ephesian elders he stated, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).  Notice especially that phrase, "if only I may finish the race." Our goal is to finish well and stay faithful to the end. At that point may we be able to sum up our life's story like Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

Fellow runners let us bravely run the race till we see Christ!

Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way!
Wherever my lot be cast, teach me Thy way!
Until the race is run, until the journey's done,
Until the crown is won, teach me Thy way!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the spiritual journey may have its twists and turns, its potholes and inclines that obscure the finish line, but by faith I will stay the course because You give me power when I feel faint and strength when I am weak. Everlasting Father, Creator of the ends of the earth You do not grow weary or faint; Your understanding is vast beyond measure and Your might gives me strength when I grow weary and hope when I become discouraged helping me to rise as though I have wings as eagles. Help me to soar above my troubles and give flight to those worries that would otherwise weigh me down. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Rise Up O Men Of God"  Video  Titan Men's Chorus or here Palos Verdes Quartet
This was our theme song throughout the men's retreat and the men sang it in their church service on Sunday.  Hymn Background told by the songwriter: This song was written specifically for men by William P. Merrill in 1911. "Nolan R. Best, then editor of The Continent, happened to say to me that there was urgent need of a brotherhood hymn. The suggestion lingered in my mind, and just about that time I came upon an article by Gerald Stanley Lee, entitled 'The Church of the Strong Men.' I was on one of the Lake Michigan steamers going back to Chicago for a Sunday at my own church, when suddenly this hymn came up, almost without conscious thought or effort."

"Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord"  Video  Gary Chapman  The first time I recall ever singing this hymn was several weeks ago in our church. My brother Pat shared that he had also recently heard it and thought the last verse which we quoted at the end of today's message was especially moving.

"It Will Be Worth It All"  Video  Musicians not identified

"It'll Be Worth It After All"  Video   Terry Terrell

"Bloodline"  Video  Dallas Holm

For the geographically curious here is a map of where the men's retreat was held along with Hawk Mountain (Google map)

Information about
Hawk Mountain

The story of the Hawk Mountain eagle statue.

Last year we shared a five part series of messages on "Lessons From Life's Marathon" beginning with this message. Use "next message" link to read each message.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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